Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
A survey of patient questions, an emotional memo from a New York City surgeon, and some useful reminders for non-ICU specialists were all trending Friday on social media. Read on for the details.
Lots of Questions. Some Answers.
“Can you get COVID-19 more than once?” “How is the coronavirus transmitted?” “Should I get tested?”
When we surveyed physicians, nurses, and other clinicians who follow the Medscape Instagram account on the most common questions their patients are asking them, we received several hundred replies. The majority of patient concerns they reported track broadly into the three questions above.
Are your patients asking you similar questions? Here are some resources the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided earlier this week.
Long-term immunity after exposure and infection is virtually unknown, the CDC says. Investigators know that individuals with COVID-19 have an antibody response but aren’t sure it’s protective. Other coronaviruses develop an antibody response that offers a period of immunity that may eventually wane and reinfection may reoccur.
As for transmission, the CDC reports that the virus is passed through respiratory droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes. Infection may also occur from touching a contaminated surface, then touching the face. Other transmission pathways, such as through fecal matter, may also occur.
Right now, testing is primarily focused on individuals who are symptomatic with evidence of respiratory tract infection rather than on asymptomatic people who are merely concerned about the virus and want a test, the CDC says.
Daily Dispatch From the COVID-19 Epicenter
Each day since the start of the coronavirus crisis in New York City, Craig Smith, MD, the chairman of the Columbia University Department of Surgery, sends out a COVID-19 update to his team and every evening the department posts it to their public Twitter account.
The daily communication offers an unvarnished look at what’s happening at the hospital. Friday’s entry was particularly gut-wrenching.
“The enemy is inside the wire,” it reads. “This became unavoidably obvious when another colleague was intubated. Just one of an unsettling number of new ventilator cases at [Columbia University Irving Medical Center], but proof for everyone how real this is getting…”
COVID-19 Update: Friday, 3/27/20
— Columbia Surgery (@ColumbiaSurgery) March 27, 2020
Smith says he’s not ashamed to confess that his first reaction 100% of the time when dealing with a very sick COVID-19 patient is crippling anxiety and self-doubt. His letter goes on to say, “Even most of those who go onto ventilators survive, but not by chance. They survive because we don’t give up. We take care of them even when we’re distressed.”
Helpful Infographics for Nonspecialists
For many physicians, the coronavirus has taken them out of their day-to-day specialty and they find themselves in the ICU perhaps for the first time since medical school.
M. Daniyal Hashmi, MD, current PGY-4 chief resident for internal medicine in Washington, DC, and future pulmonary and critical care medicine fellow at Henry Ford Hospital, is posting sourced and referenced “cheat sheets” for non-ICU clinicians who are now taking care of critically ill patients.
Hashmi has kept the infographics simple, only including topics pertinent to current need. For example, his most recent visual pertains to the basics of mechanical ventilation. Another offers a quick refresher on the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome.
I created these "Cheat sheets" for Non-ICU clinicians who may find themselves taking care of critically ill patients soon.
— M. Daniyal Hashmi, MD (@MDaniyalHashmi1) March 26, 2020
All the charts are now grouped together in a single tweet pinned to the top of Hashmi’s Twitter feed. It’s been shared more than a thousand times.
Liz Neporent is Medscape’s executive editor of social media and community. She has previously worked at ABC News National as well as other major news outlets. She’s based in New York City and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @lizzyfit on Twitter.